November 28, 2023
Breaking News Bucks is presented by ARCUS hunting brands. To find out more click here.
The photo of 28-year-old CJ Alexander’s colossal Ohio whitetail buck in the back of a pickup truck will likely go down as one of the most iconic deer hunting photos of all time. News of CJ’s insanely wide buck (over 27 inches inside) spread like wildfire throughout the deer hunting world on November 10, 2023, the day he recovered the buck after arrowing it the previous evening.
Everyone “in the know” on trophy whitetails has followed the flurry of posts about CJ’s buck on social media, leading to lots of talk and questions about how big the deer’s rack really is. As speculation grew, few facts were coming to light about the tremendous antlers or the hunting story . . . until now!
North American Whitetail STAFF is excited to announce we’ve interviewed CJ and have the breaking report on not only his exciting hunt for this trophy buck, but also breaking information about the buck’s preliminary “green” score as it awaits official measuring by Ohio Buckeye Big Buck Club on January 13, 2024.
Here follows an abbreviated account of NAW’s interview with CJ Alexander, preceding a full print feature in our magazine in 2024, as well as quotes from Mike Rex, Ohio BBBC secretary chairman, regarding future scoring of the buck’s incredible (and somewhat controversial) rack.
The Surprise of a Lifetime
The story of CJ’s hunt for the buck we’re calling “Alexander the Great” isn’t like many you’ll read in the pages of NAW magazine. His behemoth buck isn’t one he’d watched for years and captured on trail camera. Instead, this world-class buck came seemingly out of thin air, a total surprise to the crossbow hunter.
In fact, on Nov. 9, 2023, CJ was hunting on his sister’s 30-acre tract of land in Clinton County, Ohio, for the first time ever! Born and raised in Highland County, Ohio, CJ is an avid whitetailer and has pursued big bucks in the Buckeye State for years. However, after hunting most of the ’23 season on public land and not having much luck, he decided to try his sister’s spot on a whim.
“I was actually talking with my dad about deer hunting, and he asked how my season was going,” CJ explains. “I told him I’d seen a few bucks, but nothing really promising. That’s when he encouraged me to hunt the 30 acres that my sister owns. Dad killed his best whitetail ever there years ago, and he told me it’d always been a great spot, despite it not being an overly big piece of land.”
But before CJ could kill any buck in 2023, two things had to happen. For starters, he needed to borrow a crossbow. After selling his vertical bow the previous year, he’d purchased a crossbow that both he and his fiancé could hunt with. However, when that crossbow broke in October ’23 just prior to deer season, CJ was left without a backup bow. So, CJ asked friend Corey Haunert for permission to borrow his Excalibur Matrix 380 crossbow. Corey agreed, but that wasn’t the only helping hand he’ll lend in this story. Corey also is to credit for lending CJ a climbing tree stand on the very morning of CJ’s successful hunt.
"My tree stand was already out elsewhere, so my only option was to ask Corey if I could borrow one of his climbers,” CJ explains. “Corey brought me one of his stands that morning, and by 5:00 AM, I was perched in my selected tree and waiting for sunrise.” CJ’s chosen ambush was a good one. He was perched above a natural “pinch point” about 15 yards from where a pond necked down to some thick hardwood regeneration. The area naturally funneled all wildlife to walk around the water and dense cover. The land hadn’t been hunted, nor had neighboring properties to CJ’s knowledge. Nearby agriculture fields meant the 30-acre hideaway had all requisites for a big buck hideaway: food, water, cover and low hunting pressure.
CJ’s hunt started out extremely slow, honestly. Even though he’d seen no deer by late morning, CJ elected to hunt all day. He was hopeful the magic of the rut would prevail, and some unknown mature buck would appear. “I forgot my phone at home, so I had nothing to do all day except watch for deer,” CJ recounts. “I didn’t see anything until 4:00 PM, when a doe appeared and was followed by a small yearling buck.” While watching the doe and small buck closely, CJ got the surprise of his hunting career.
"As the doe eased closer, I heard something I can only describe as a ROAR,” CJ explains. “I mean, it was loud, like BRAAAAAAAH. I knew it was a buck grunt. I turned slowly to look in the direction I’d heard it, but I couldn’t see anything. “I thought maybe I was going crazy,” CJ laughs.
“Like, maybe I’d sat there for so long that I was imagining things! But the doe kept looking in the direction of the grunt. About 10 minutes later, I heard it again. I knew that doe could see a buck somewhere in that direction. So, I stood up and peeked around the tree. Instantly, I spotted the biggest buck I’ve ever seen in my entire life step out at 130 yards.”
CJ, absolutely stunned by the sight of the behemoth whitetail, watched as the buck closed the distance between himself and the doe to 80 yards. “The buck worked his way to the doe along the wood line,” CJ recounts. “When the buck got closer, the doe bolted away towards the pond, retreating away from him. The buck wasn’t happy about that, and he kept his head down and made a U-turn following the doe. When they both started my way again, all I could do was try to find a shooting lane where I’d be able to get a shot. I ranged a downed log at 8 yards and knew that would be the spot! “It was like he read the script,” CJ continues.
“That buck walked right to the log and stopped broadside for a split second, just long enough for me to raise the crossbow and get a shot off.” CJ aimed for the buck’s high shoulder to compensate for the extreme downward shooting angle. However, the arrow impacted further back than he’d aimed. “The buck ran hard right after I shot him,” CJ explains. “Then he tucked his tail and hunched over. I was reaching to grab another arrow, but my cocking rope was in my pack, and my safety harness was hung too high for me to reach my bag!
Meanwhile, the buck turned around and walked right back at me, crossing under my tree stand at just 12 yards. All I could do was watch him walk off.” Unsure of his shot, CJ sat in the stand until total darkness before slowly climbing down from the tree as quietly as possible. Once down, the hunter inspected his crossbow arrow and found bright red blood, which instantly gave him hope he’d struck one of the buck’s vital arteries.
“I called my buddy Corey and told him I’d shot one,” CJ remembers. “He asked if it was a big one, and I instantly broke down in tears. I told him the buck had to be 190 inches or bigger and was the biggest buck I’d ever seen!” CJ told Corey the shot was back, and both men agreed to wait until the next day before beginning tracking.
After a totally sleepless night, the men arrived at the property after daylight the next day. “We couldn’t find any blood where I first shot the buck or where I saw him walk off,” CJ explains. “Just when I was starting to worry, Corey found a 6-inch blade of grass that was coated in bright red blood. We pursued the trail a bit further and were stopped in our tracks by an overwhelming odor of a rutting buck!
Knowing the buck was close, we eased closer and closer until I spotted the buck lying still. “I immediately tapped Corey on the shoulder and pointed to the downed buck,” CJ continues. “From there, it was a total celebration! We were high-kneeing and running over to the buck as fast as we could. Neither of us could believe how huge the rack is. Corey told me the buck had to be over 200 inches. I couldn’t help but cry. I still can’t believe it really happened. I give all the glory to God for blessing me with this opportunity.”
Ohio’s Next State Record Typical?
Anytime a giant whitetail is killed, questions arise about score. CJ knew he’d arrowed an incredible whitetail, and one that undoubtedly would receive a lot of attention from antler fanatics and trophy deer hunters everywhere. The term “world class” gets thrown around in the whitetail world perhaps more than it should, but in the case of the CJ Alexander buck, it’s applicable.
Eager to find out exactly how big his buck truly is, CJ conversed with Ohio’s Buckeye Big Buck Club secretary chairman, Mike Rex. Recognizing the significance of the buck, Mike agreed to meet with CJ at his home to view the rack. During their visit, Mike agreed to “green” score the rack prior to the club’s mandatory 60-day drying period.
During the preliminary scoring session, Mike recognized one feature of the rack that already has received quite a bit of attention on social media. Specifically, many have asked if the rack’s left antler side has a “common base” where the G-2 and G-3 tines protrude from the main beam. The question about a common base is relevant when deciding if the rack will be scored as a typical or non-typical. This is because a common base point that protrudes from a tine, rather than from the main beam itself, could be ruled “abnormal” according to Boone & Crockett scoring guidelines.
This is especially true if the common base tine doesn’t have a matching tine on the opposite side of the rack. When NAW STAFF interviewed Rex to ask his opinion of the rack’s left-side G-2/G-3 common base, he had this to say: “If you use the Boone & Crockett standard for measuring, the term “common base” doesn’t always mean non-typical. There can in fact be two typical points sharing a common base; but for both points to be considered “legal” typical tines, they must originate from the main beam and not from one another.
To prove this, you must be able to show that growth lines originate from the main beam, and you should be able to draw a “figure eight” pattern around the base of the points when looking down at them. There also can be a dimple or a “kidney” present where the tines grow from the beam. Upon close inspection and after having the CJ Alexander buck’s rack in my hands, it is my opinion this rack can be scored as a typical 6x5. I was able to find where I believe the G-2 and G-3 tines both grow from the main beam. It is also my opinion that the G-2 and G-3 on the left side have matching G-2 and G-3 tines on the right side. This is the biggest rack I’ve ever held in my hands.”
When Rex finished green scoring the rack, again prior to BBBC’s mandatory 60-day drying period and prior to any “shrinkage” that might occur as the rack dries, the final numbers were nothing short of amazing. Rex measured the inside spread at 27 2/8 inches, the main beams at 32 inches, and the mass measurements totaled more than 50 inches. Rex’s preliminary measurements bring the rack’s total score to 235 7/8 gross and 206 7/8 net typical.
It remains to be seen if a chosen panel of measurers from Ohio’s BBBC will corroborate Rex’s green score and agree with his interpretation of the rack. Of note, if the panel does in fact decide to score the CJ Alexander rack as a typical, it could be the new No. 1 typical record in Ohio, besting both Brad Jerman’s and William Kontras’ 201 1/8 net typicals, which currently are tied for the state’s top slot. “I can only tell you what I’d argue if I was a measurer on that panel,” explains Rex. “I won’t be on the panel, because I green-scored the rack. I’m sure our state scoring supervisor, Will Ogden, will appoint a panel of Boone & Crockett certified measurers to score this rack, and I will be present to explain my interpretation of how it should be scored.”
Of course, if the Ohio BBBC panel rules that the common base isn’t typical, and that either the G-2 or G-3 tines are abnormal, the net score would be significantly reduced. In fact, major deductions for side-to-side asymmetry could reduce the rack’s net typical score into the 170s. Interestingly, if this occurs, the rack could still be scored as a non-typical, presumably netting as high as 220 to 230 inches. So, when will we know for sure where this exceptional whitetail lands in Ohio’s record book?
The answer: January 13, 2024. That is the day the official BBBC panel is scheduled to convene to measure CJ’s rack, after the 60-day drying period has ended. And what about the CJ Alexander buck’s ranking in the world, amongst all other whitetails, and not just Ohio’s? Well, that’s an important question. Ultimately, the decision whether or not to enter the buck into Boone & Crockett’s all-time record book is CJ’s to make. The hunter obviously has no obligation to enter the buck into B&C, but many in the whitetail world will be watching to see if he does. For, if the rack does in fact score in the 200 net typical range, he’ll be a challenger for a top-5 all-time slot.
Currently, Milo Hanson’s 213 5/8 net typical is B&C’s No. 1, followed by Dustin Huff’s 211 4/8 buck from Indiana. Ranking No. 3 is James Jordan’s 206 1/8 typical from Wisconsin, followed at No. 4 by Larry Gibson’s 205 net typical from Missouri. In theory, the latter two bucks are the ones CJ’s buck will challenge, depending obviously on how the rack is scored. And, if entered into B&C, CJ’s buck could be subjected to panel measuring once again by a group of measurers of that club’s choosing.
Until then, the whitetail world will be on the edge of its seat awaiting more news of this great trophy. One thing is for sure, regardless of numbers or score, CJ Alexander’s buck will remain one of the largest-framed whitetails of all time, with an unbelievable hunting story to boot. From all of us at NAW, congratulations, CJ!
For more information about CJ’s buck, and for updates on the scoring process, stay tuned to NAW’s website and social media pages. Follow along on Facebook & Instagram